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Plastics: Waste

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 62527, tabled on 22 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that (a) the 30 per cent of exported UK plastic waste destined for Turkey is managed to standards equivalent to those in the UK and (b) leakage into the environment, rivers and seas is prevented.

Answered on

30 June 2020

The UK and Turkey are both Parties to the United Nations Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal. The Convention provides a global system for controlling the export of hazardous wastes and wastes collected from households. The UK and Turkey are also both members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and are subject to an OECD Council Decision which provides the legal framework for the control of movements of wastes within the OECD to ensure the environmentally sound and economically efficient recovery of wastes.

The requirements of the Basel Convention and the OECD Decision are implemented in UK law by the EU Waste Shipment Regulations and the UK Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations. This legislation requires that those involved in the shipments of waste take all necessary steps to ensure waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling or recovery in the country of destination.

The UK regulators take a proactive and intelligence-led approach to checking compliance with waste shipments legislation and intervene to stop illegal exports taking place when necessary. In England in 2018/19, the Environment Agency (EA) inspected almost 1,000 shipping containers at ports and returned over 200 of those to sites. During this period, the EA also prevented 12,000 tonnes of waste from reaching ports which may have otherwise been exported illegally.

Any operators found to be illegally exporting waste can face severe sanctions - from financial penalties to imprisonment for a period of up to two years.